Is there a noticeable difference between using an internal or external frame backpack with a moderately bad back? I read where internals make you lean forward as you hike. When I fish I tend to lean forward in anticipation of a strike. This causes a lot of soreness in my back. Any advice? Thanks
I've never found lean-forward to be an issue - at least not after I acquired the habit of walking erect. Like any other habit, it's something you have to consciously remember to do, until you do it automatically.
I have noticed that it's a bit easier to remember with an external frame pack, but not significantly so. I'm not sure why, but I find I'm more erect with my Exos pack than I am with my Kestrel pack. (Yes, the Exos is an external frame - the giveaway is the trampoline suspension. It's a very high-tech external, that is far more comfortable than my 1980s aluminum pipe pack, but it's still an external.)
In short, the pack only makes you lean forward if you let it. It's very easy to walk erect with any pack, especially with a load of 25 pounds or less (which is not difficult to attain with today's gear, unless you're on a longer trip where you're carrying a lot of food.)
Wow, I relate to that. I experience the same pain leaning forward stripping a fly or watching an indicator or dry fly. There's many days I have to take deep breaths and just back off on the anticipation and intense focus. Lots of days fishing for striped bass I reach for Aleve first thing in the morning. In recent years,as sore as my back has been fishing (wading and standing on rocky terrain is also very bad on backs), I've noticed very little back pain while backpacking. I have had soreness in my shoulders and hips, but the walking motion seems to keep the back aligned and pain free. I haven't carried an external frame for awhile . It's apples and oranges too: I use to carry a lot of weight in big framed packs, I've downsized and gone to smaller internal frames exclusively. The one thing that seems key is getting the right fit and packing your gear so the distribution is right. I also remember getting sore coming down steep trails before I started to use trekking poles. I subconsciously leaned forward, creating strain on the lower back. Staying more upright and letting the poles aid in balance and taking some of the strain off my knees leads to much less jarring descents. Welcome to this forum and best of luck (with fishing , too).
So now that you use an internal frame you don't get the same back pain leaning forward as we both do while fishing? It does not take much of a lean while fishing to feel discomfort. Its that subconscious slight lean in anticipation of that strike and subsequent hookset. Just curious if and internal packs causes the same lean while walking. So Glenn, if I get this straight, I do not HAVE to lean forward with an internal? Just that everything I read about them says that they do tend to cause you to lean. Gonna hike The Batona in NJ soon and just don't wanna get halfway into it and abort due to choosing the wrong type of pack. Thanks
I've never heard that, and the Granite Gear and Osprey packs I use do not make me lean forward. However, I do perhaps lean forward going up steep hills and when occasionally having to use your hands to climb. I could see having to lean forward if the hip belt is not riding in the right place and the pack doesn't fit well- you lean forward to take more weight on to your shoulders and upper back and give relief to the hips. I haul my heavy float tube in to some ADK brook trout ponds, and I do find myself leaning with the heavy load- but it's with a frame pack. I would see if you could find a place where you could get fit for a pack and try one out in a store. You certainly don't have to worry about rocks and hills on the Batona. (Did it about 35 years ago). At that time I was using a Jansport D-2 external frame and carrying 35-40 lbs. Might do it again sometime in winter. Pack fit is far more important than the type of pack, up to about 30 lbs. Keeping your pack weight as low as possible helps a lot.
No, you don't HAVE to lean forward with an internal. It can have a bit more inclination to encourage it, but you can overcome it without undue effort.
Putting a load on your back (in a pack, a gunny sack, or whatever) shifts your center of gravity back from its "normal" location - and to compensate, you feel like you need to lean forward. After you get used to the new normal center of gravity, that sensation goes away.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
An awful lot depends on three things--the structure of the individual pack, the fit of the pack to your body (when loaded), and the distribution of weight within the pack.
The center of gravity of the pack (where the heaviest items are) should be just slightly above (but not too far above) the center of gravity of your body (which depends on your individual build). If you find you are leaning forward, the center of gravity of your pack is too high, and you should be packing it so that the denser items are a little lower and closer to your back.
I find that I do a lot less leaning with my internal frame pack than I ever did with the old external frame. The best part, for me, is that with the internal frame, the pack moves with my body. With the external frame, the pack tended to zig when I zagged, throwing me off balance.
Of course as a woman with (unfortunately) extra weight on my hips, the center of gravity of my body is low (well below my waist) and therefore the heavy stuff has to be carried low.
One problem with this is that there are few items in my lightweight gear that are significantly heavier than the others except my food bag. Of course the food bag gets lighter each day, so by late in the trip it's no longer an obvious item for the center of gravity. Fortunately, the total pack weight is much less by then!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
["The center of gravity of the pack (where the heaviest items are) should be just slightly above (but not too far above) the center of gravity of your body (which depends on your individual build). If you find you are leaning forward, the center of gravity of your pack is too high, and you should be packing it so that the denser items are a little lower and closer to your back."] This is great stuff to learn. Thanks. I would love to contribute to this site but unfortunately I have never backpacked before Just hiked 7 miles yesterday but with just a fanny pack with water. Never carried a pack. wanna get up to 10-12 miles a day before I start to carry a pack, so I'm just in the market for one now. Ask me about fishing though... (Sorry...bad job of quoting Oregon Mouse)